ETYM French art, Latin ars, artis, orig., skill in joining or fitting; prob. akin to Eng. arm, aristocrat, article.
1. The creation of beautiful or significant things; SYN. artistic creation, artistic production.
2. The products of human creativity; works of art collectively; SYN. fine art.
3. The superior ability that is attained by study and practice and observation; SYN. artistry, prowess, superior skill.
In the broadest sense, all the processes and products of human skill, imagination, and invention; the opposite of nature. In contemporary usage, definitions of art usually reflect esthetic criteria, and the term may encompass literature, music, drama, painting, and sculpture. Popularly, the term is most commonly used to refer to the visual arts. In Western culture, esthetic criteria introduced by the ancient Greeks still influence our perceptions and judgments of art.
Two currents of thought run through our ideas about art. In one, derived from Aristotle, art is concerned with mimesis (“imitation”), the representation of appearances, and gives pleasure through the accuracy and skill with which it depicts the real world. The other view, derived from Plato, holds that the artist is inspired by the Muses (or by God, or by the inner impulses, or by the collective unconscious) to express that which is beyond appearances— inner feelings, eternal truths, or the essence of the age. In the Middle Ages the term “art” was used, chiefly in the plural, to signify a branch of learning which was regarded as an instrument of knowledge. The seven liberal arts consisted of the trivium, that is grammar, logic, and rhetoric, and the quadrivium, that is arithmetic, music, geometry, and astronomy. In the visual arts of Western civilizations, painting and sculpture have been the dominant forms for many centuries. This has not always been the case in other cultures. Islamic art, for example, is o.
Ne of ornament, for under the Muslim religion artists were forbidden to usurp the divine right of creation by portraying living creatures. In some cultures masks, tattoos, pottery, and metalwork have been the main forms of visual art. Recent technology has made new art forms possible, such as photography and cinema, and today electronic media have led to entirely new ways of creating and presenting visual images. See also prehistoric art; the arts of ancient civilizations, for example Egyptian art; indigenous art traditions, for example Oceanic art; medieval art; the arts of individual countries, such as French art; individual movements, such as Romanticism, Cubism, and Impressionism; and painting and sculpture.